In our member spotlight, Elisa Guggino, takes a moment out of her busy day to sit down with SMPS. Elisa, who’s a senior proposal coordinator at Kisinger Campo & Associates, Corp. (KCA), shares the rewards and challenges of her job and what she gains from being an SMPS member.
Please describe your current role. I am a senior proposal coordinator for a mid-size multidisciplinary engineering firm, so I do tend to wear many hats. In addition to leading large strategic pursuits, I also contribute to the firm website, blog, technical writing (such as cover letters, project descriptions, résumés), and some graphic design.
What’s a typical day like for you? A typical day in this profession seems to vary greatly. One day could be non-stop with several submittals due, while the next day could be much slower. All in all, our marketing department typically has four to five proposals due every week. Multi-tasking is key to my job!
What are the rewards of the job? The challenges? The most rewarding part of my profession is definitely the people. I work with a close-knit group of marketers who are all team players and make this job so much more enjoyable. Their uplifting energy makes it easier to come to work every day.
The workload that we face as marketers is a huge challenge (constantly multi-tasking/juggling various proposals). Another challenge involves keeping our busy technical staff engaged in the proposal process, ensuring they adhere to our proposal schedules.
What has been your most meaningful project to date? After a grueling proposal and presentation process, I helped secure a huge project with a client that our firm had not won work with during the past 30 years. We were shortlisted a couple of times for this client, but were not able to win a project. To date, it is still my firm’s biggest project (in terms of fees) and one of our most high-profile projects, which has been pretty rewarding to me!
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? After college, I started working at a small, privately owned engineering firm as an administrative assistant. I copied and bound 24-inch by 36-inch engineering plans (and I hated it). So, I set out to look for an opportunity using my degree (which is in journalism). I started searching for editing professions within the A/E/C industries. A proposal coordinator job just fell in my lap, and I’ve been in the industry ever since (13 years and counting).
Why is SMPS membership important to you and has it helped you? SMPS is an incredible organization. I wish I would have joined when I first started working in the industry because if you haven’t done this job before, it can be very challenging. All the educational events/programs, networking, support, and advice/lessons learned from seasoned members have been invaluable. I’m currently studying for the CPSM exam, and all the knowledge I’ve gained from studying has perfected my skills and improved my confidence.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Proposals are never going to be perfect. Sometimes you just have to let it go (pencils down) and hope for the best!
What’s on your bucket list? I love to travel and have always wanted to go to Greece. Maybe even a Mediterranean cruise. Australia and Ireland are also on my bucket list.
What was your childhood dream job? I am such a big music lover and since I have no actual musical talent, I always wanted to write for Rolling Stone magazine, thus combining two of my loves.
What’s your guilty pleasure: What can you not live without? Since this profession involves writing and reading highly technical text, I enjoy watching mindless entertainment, which usually consists of reality TV. Bravo is my go-to channel and the Real Housewives is my guilty pleasure (along with popcorn).
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